I bet you a milk tea cake that your Instagram consistently plays stories of someone eating at Mercato Centrale every Wednesday ‘til Sunday. Maybe it’s even your own? Did you paste the right piggy sticker?
Mercato Centrale, or just Mercato, is one of Manila’s biggest food night markets. It’s a vibrant alfresco jungle of selected foodpreneurs, rotating one-of-a-kind foodstalls, and hungry belly-critics swinging by for tasty late-night fare. It’s where you’ll appease that craving for the ultimate pick-me-upper – gooey and melted raclette that’s cheesier than your boyfriend; endless varieties of ihaw-ihaw streetfood; frozen cheesecakes on a stick (because using forks is sooo mainstream); one-liter fruit shakes for sipping all night long, or just go on full glutton mode and mega-binge on all of the above.
It’s also a place known to incubate the most promising and trending food concepts in the Metro at an affordable price. With its primary market being young working-class corporates, Php200 is your basic entrance fee into a world of churning flavors. So, with a food buddy in one hand and a cold beer in the other, we dove into the swirl at the newest branch to set up shop on the other side of Makati!
Tara, palamig muna! Emy & Ody’s Fresh fruit salad juice is so yummy, we got it in a TIMBA (bathing pail) size! I’m going to be their new suki (regular customer) for sure.
Apparently, drinks here are better when bigger. Almost everyone got their refresher fix from For Heaven’s Shake’s 1-liter cold spells.
Of course, there’s milk team too! Bumble Tea Place will get you buzzing on boba starting at Php80. We gtriedot their Wintermelon tea and added pearl sinkers because what’s the point of drinking milk tea without the pearls?
Tara, pabusog! Tusok-Tusok (poked or skewered food) is typical of Mercato. Their Jupiter branch carries this Pinoy favorite at Dada’s Grill. A barbecue combo with egg and yellow rice will set you back a hundred pesos.
Stallburg offers a brief but, very ahem, meaty, menu of classic burgers and cheesy fries. This newcomer enters the food market bearing tender patties of weighty significance along with your choice of blue cheese dressing or their very own StallBurg sauce, and a side of buffalo wings or onion rings.
In the mood for going “bagnetarian?” Bagnet Rice Patong’s pork belly is crispy, not dry, and tasty as all great bagnets should be.
A warning: please have your blood pressure checked first because the next pork dish at this place might give you that taste excitement that could finally bring you to heaven.
Still around? Great because tonight is extra rice night – with lechon. Timpador’s Lechon with rice is priced at Php120 and ¼ kilo of their boneless lechon is at Php220, which is good for 2-3 pax.
Tara, panghimagas! A meal isn’t complete without its best and greatest portion and Mercato gets that. Here there are dessert stalls that’ll drown out your sight and spin your mind with choices upon choices of sugary, syrupy delights. If you’ve ever OD’ed on sugar, then this is the place where you can do it again.
Crave It Cheesecakes is a Mercato pioneer with their viral dessert on a stick paraded on opening day. All throughout the preparation, our eyes were glued on how the melted chocolate dripped off the cake to how it was made- with chocnut, almonds, hazelnut, and more chocolate. Forget a fork; let’s eat with our entire face!
Piper’s Pan had a multitude of cakes stacked above each other which made it a struggle to choose just one…
We ended up with three of their bestsellers to take home.
Being part-time food skeptics, the “Best Maja Blanca in town!” sign board in pink bold letters was so tempting, it made us try a big slice of this coconut milk dessert from Gng. Bukid. The base, being soft and creamy, was complemented by a generous serving of corn kernels and crunchy coconut shavings. A spoonful made us proclaim that this wasn’t a mere blob of sweet pudding since I believe the sign board tells the absolute divine truth.
The humble market seller says his products are all natural, preservatives-free, and with no artificial ingredients. We were sold, and so were a slice of his carrot cake and a bottle of homemade peanut butter.
Other crowd pleasers were Chicago Pizza & Pasta, Cookies by The Bucket, House of Crispy, King Shawarma, Pibs N Nicks, and Sorbelato & Soyblessed. Watch out for tons more fresh new concepts in existing branches and opening ones in the South! (Get excited, Bay Area kids!)
Besides edible treats, Mercato’s treats also spin by way of bright lights, festive noises, and great music. It’s great atmosphere as the busy day winds down and the lengthening night direct time into a more serene pace.
SM Cyber Makati One, Jupter Street, Makati
(Thursday to Friday) 6PM – 3AM
Twitter / Instagram: @mercatocentrale